Is the idea of staying in a historic accommodation in Ireland appealing to you?
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Older hotels generally provide the kind of living history experience that newer buildings just can’t match, and if you’re a history nerd, you’ll love learning about these 8 heritage hotels in Ireland that all have stories to tell.
Of course, “older” doesn’t mean that they’re lacking in standards.
Quite the opposite.
In fact, some have been busy doing upgrades and other renovations in recent years that are sure to set them apart from other hotels around the country.
The hotels listed in this post are in the mid-price range, but rates at some of them increase dramatically during the high season.
If you’re traveling to Ireland during the “shoulder season” (April, May, early June, and early October) or in the low season, which is generally the winter months, you’ll get lower rates.
It is always wise to book your accommodation in Ireland a couple of months in advance to get the best price.
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1. Bushmills Inn, County Antrim
While the main hotel was built in the 1820s as part of a major redevelopment of the town by local landowner Sir Frances Workman Macnaghten, part of the building — where the hotel’s restaurant is located — is where a coach house and the stables of the original coaching inn once stood.
It is believed that the inn was established around 1608 when the Old Bushmills distillery was granted a license to distill whiskey.
It quickly became a popular stop for travelers on their way to the Giant’s Causeway and where they got the chance to sip what has now become one of the world’s most popular whiskey brands.
While evidence of the 17th-century inn is long gone, the main building from the 1820s exudes a truly old-fashioned feel.
You'll find turf- or wood-burning fireplaces ablaze during the colder months, the hotel’s Gas Bar bathed in traditional gas lamps, and a “secret” library behind a hidden door.
The hotel’s historical character has been thoughtfully preserved and as a result, it has been a firm favorite for tourists visiting the Coastal Causeway region.
Cost: Off-season rates at this hotel begin at around $179 per night and can be found between October and March, but book early if you really want to stay there during this timeframe. Breakfast is included; free parking is available.
2. Castle Hotel, Dublin
Do you love Georgian architecture? If so, Dublin has many great examples of it, and one of them is the Castle Hotel, the oldest hotel in the city.
The hotel was built in 1809.
Its architect, John Ensor, was a student of the famous Richard Castle who designed many of Ireland’s grand homes, including Russborough House, the Leinster House government buildings, and Powerscourt House in County Wicklow.
It was formerly a matching pair of Georgian houses.
Originally known as the Norfolk Hotel, the property was sold in the early 1900s and renamed The Leix Hotel.
In 1956, it was relaunched as The Castle Hotel under new ownership.
The hotel is galleried on each floor, with two centrally positioned period staircases, adding to its authenticity.
Many of the original marble fireplaces surrounded by their original restored plasterwork are in use during the colder months.
The hotel has hosted many famous guests over the years, including the revolutionary and politician Michael Collins and the former President of Ireland Eamonn de Valera.
Cost: Off-season rates at this hotel begin at around $189. Prices are more expensive during the summer season. Breakfast is included; private parking is available behind the hotel for €15 per day.
3. Granville Hotel, Waterford
If you find yourself in Waterford, you should consider spending the night at The Granville Hotel in the city.
The hotel is located on a site where a townhouse once stood.
It belonged to the family of Thomas Francis Meagher, the founder of the Irish tricolor flag that was first flown in the city in 1848.
You’ll find a picture frame in the hotel with Meagher’s photo and information on the man who led what can only be summed up as a fascinating life.
Meagher was transported to Van Diemen’s Land after being found guilty of sedition. He later escaped to America and eventually became Montana’s Territorial Secretary of State.
He died in a Missouri river under suspicious circumstances.
The family-run hotel was restored to its former grandeur in the 1970s and today its interior combines modern comfort with old-world charm and elegance.
Cost: The average price during the autumn months is about $159 per night. Prices will go up during the high season. Breakfast is included; pay for public parking across the street.
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4. Old Ground Hotel, Ennis
To say that the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis in County Clare has had a colorful history is an understatement.
While the building was constructed in the early part of the 18th century, it wasn’t until 1895 that it was turned into a hotel.
In 1920 during the Irish War of Independence, the family that owned the hotel gave the Irish Republican Army (IRA) permission to use the hotel as a meeting place.
The Black and Tans, recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) as war-time reinforcements, were on the lookout for IRA members who they believed had been responsible for kidnappings and ambushes in the area.
One day, they arrived at the hotel, ransacking its contents and burning most of the furniture on the front lawn.
Harry Mills, a piano player for the hotel, entertained some loyalists in the crowd outside with a rendition of “God Save the Queen” before the piano was also burned.
In 1946 with the advent of international flights in and out of nearby Shannon Airport, the hotel served as convenient accommodation for TWA and Pan Am crews.
Next door to the hotel was the town hall, which also included a jail, and that, too, became part of what is now the popular 4-star hotel.
You’ll be won over by its drawing rooms, residents’ library, and adjacent bars, which are all beautifully furnished.
A private contemporary art collection also adds to the hotel’s overall look and feel.
Choose from The Town Hall Bistro, Poet’s Corner Bar, or the Brendan O’Regan Restaurant while staying at the Old Ground Hotel.
Cost: The cost in mid-October is currently around $124 per night. Breakfast is an additional charge; free parking is available.
5. Schoolhouse Hotel, Dublin
Of course, its name gives it away, but yes, the Schoolhouse Hotel in Dublin was once a small local school with a history dating back to 1859.
In 1892, many of the assistant teachers lived in little rooms above the classrooms, which made for an unusual feature of the building.
The current kitchen once served as a domestic science room for girls.
When the school was being renovated in the 1960s, it was discovered that many of the students’ desks had bullet marks along with pieces of shrapnel.
It turned out they had been used as barricades during the Battle of Mount Street Bridge, an armed conflict that took place on April 26th, 1916, between the British Army and rebels who were fighting for Irish freedom during the Easter Rising.
In the late 1990s, the classrooms of the former St. Stephen’s Parochial School were restored and turned into what is now one of Dublin’s most unique, up-cycled hotels.
Guest rooms are each named for a famous Irish writer, with corresponding portraits hanging on the walls.
A light-filled former chapel serves as the dining room, topped off with an ironclad chandelier.
Cost: You can get rates as low as €169 per night for two at this hotel. Breakfast is included; free parking is available.
6. The Harrison Chambers of Distinction, Belfast
The Victorian era was a time of great development not just in England but also in Belfast and in an area of the city that saw a multitude of Victorian-inspired structures.
In the early 19th century, much of what we know today as Queen’s Quarter was farmland, but during the Victorian Age (from 1837-1901), the city grew immensely, experiencing extraordinary economic and demographic growth based on its manufacture of linen.
With it, the Queen's Quarter also thrived and it is where the city’s rising middle class would have lived.
Melanie Harrison, the owner of Harrison Chambers boutique accommodation in Belfast, was attracted to the former 19th-century merchant’s home and has turned it into a representation of the city’s past and present.
Expect to find huge bay windows, antique furniture, rich velvet curtains, and Victorian-styled bathtubs in each room.
You’ll learn about the first family who lived in the circa 1867 building and their fascinating lives.
Cost: The Bohemian Room, which sleeps 2, is currently offered at £159/$180/€181 per night, while the cost of a night in the other rooms in the hotel is just over £200/$227/€228. Rates in the off-season will be lower, so check early if you are interested in this accommodation. Breakfast is included; free parking is available.
7. The Imperial, Cork City
You might not know it, but Cork’s Imperial Hotel is known as the city’s “Grande Dame” hotel, and rightly so because it has been a fixture in Cork City life since 1813, the year it was formally opened.
It has hosted a variety of famous people over the years, including the abolitionist Frederick Douglass who stayed there in 1845 during his year in Ireland; Charles Dickens, who did a private reading in August 1858 of his book, “A Christmas Carol,” and Michael Collins, who stayed at the hotel the night before his tragic death.
The hotel’s “Michael Collins’ Suite” (Room 115) is dedicated to him.
Other notable guests included Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara and George Best, as well as Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.
The hotel is a perfect blend of the past and present, with a façade that remains very close to what you’ll see in other pictures of it.
If you love the art deco style, you’ll get plenty of that in the Imperial, together with a good mix of 19th-century architecture.
Cost: You’ll find rates as low as $134 per night in late October. Prices go up substantially during the high season, so book ahead if you want to stay at this iconic Cork accommodation. Breakfast is an additional cost (about $19 per person); parking is available at a preferred price in the Union Quay car park, a 5-minute walk from the hotel
8. Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin
This historic family-run hotel located on Abbey Street has been part of the Dublin city landscape since 1845.
The pristine 3-star accommodation once played a vital role leading up to the 1916 Easter Rising.
It was subsequently burned to the ground during the conflict and rebuilt. Ten years later, in 1926, it was re-opened.
Expect plush furnishings, a distinct Victorian style, beautiful stained glass, and plenty of value at Wynn’s Hotel.
You’ll discover comfortable bedrooms at Wynn’s – there are single bedrooms, double, treble, and even quads available.
All come with large bathrooms.
You won’t go hungry at Wynns. The hotel’s Playwright Restaurant will satisfy you, with hearty meals in the evening and an excellent breakfast that includes a full Irish or Continental.
Relax in the Saints and Scholars lounge for a drink or a quick coffee, but you can also get meals there too, including a carvery lunch.
Cost: Approximate rate for two at Wynn’s Hotel in January – $159 per night, and in the high season – $192 per night. Breakfast included; complimentary parking spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Would you care to stay in any of these 8 heritage hotels in Ireland? Let me know in the comments below.